KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Brandon Jones roared into the race lead during a late restart and held on to earn his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory on Saturday at Kansas Speedway.
Jones took advantage of two on-track incidents that opened the door for the 22-year-old Georgia native to score his first series victory in the Kansas Lottery 300.
The first such incident came with 15 laps left as Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell were battling for the race lead when they came upon the slower car of Garrett Smithley.
Smithley drifted up the track coming out of turn four just as race leader Briscoe got to him, with Briscoe slamming into the back of Smithley’s car. The resulting accordion effect saw Bell make contact with Briscoe’s car and spin, leaving both leaders with damage as the caution flag waved.
Briscoe continued on from the wreck in the lead, but the contact with Bell ripped the bumper cover off his car and he was forced to pit to replace it, handing the lead to Cole Custer, with Tyler Reddick and Jones the next two cars in line.
The race resumed with 10 laps left and Custer and Reddick battled for the lead in the first two corners, with Reddick drifting up and making slight contact with Custer’s left-rear quarter panel to force him up into the wall.
Jones, meanwhile, had hugged the white line on the bottom of the track and drove by the slowing cars of Custer and Reddick to suddenly find himself in the race lead. The final caution of the race waved shortly thereafter for the damaged machine of Joey Gase.
That set up one final restart with five laps left and Jones quickly shot away from the field after restart on the outside. Briscoe made a quick run through the pack in his damaged Ford to take second, but fell back into the clutches of Reddick with two laps left.
Reddick quickly dispatched Briscoe, but he was out of time to catch Jones, who held on to earn his first Xfinity Series victory in his 134th start.
The victory for Jones comes one race after he was eliminated from the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs following an opening lap crash at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway on Oct. 5.
“This is incredible. I knew this was going to happen. We were going to come here and have an amazing run like we did today, but it’s only because of those guys here (his crew). They’ve followed me for a long time now,” Jones said. “This feels way better since it has been so tough to get to this point.
“I’m not going to lie about this. My foot was literally shaking on the accelerator on that last lap. I’m not even sure I was wide open at the time I was doing it. There was a lot of nerve, a lot of emotion going through my mind.”
Reddick and Briscoe followed Jones across the line in second and third, respectively. Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier completed the top-five.
After the race Reddick and Custer confronted each other on pit road, which led to a scuffle between the two drivers and their respective crews. Neither driver was injured in the brief tussle.
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